South Brooklyn Motels and Public Housing Development Served as Trafficking Hubs; Brazen Assault at Staples Store Linked to Drug Dispute
Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, Ray Donovan, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) New York Division, New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, Acting New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced charges against 14 defendants following a long-term wiretap investigation into sales of heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl analogs in Brooklyn. The investigation began following a rash of overdoses in 2017.
The defendants are charged in connection with two drug distribution organizations that obtained narcotics from a common source of supply, BRANDICE WILLIAMS, aka “Bee,” aka “Sis.” The investigation, conducted by the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (NYDETF) Group T-31 and the New York City Police Department (NYPD)’s Brooklyn South Gang Squad and Narcotics Borough Brooklyn South, revealed that members of the organizations were aware of the potentially lethal potency of the narcotics they sold and made substantial profits from these drug sales. Defendant WALDEMAR VALENTIN, aka “Wiz,” the alleged leader of one organization, faces the top narcotics charge of Operating as a Major Trafficker. VALENTIN is also charged with carrying out brazen acts of violence and threats against a witness to protect his lucrative drug business.
Indictments filed by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor contain charges of Conspiracy, Operating as a Major Trafficker, Criminal Sale of and Possession of a Controlled Substance, Assault and Attempted Assault, Intimidating a Witness, Criminal Possession of a Weapon and of a Firearm, Possession of a Forged Instrument and of a Forgery Device and Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez reviewed and submitted wiretap applications for court authorization.
WILLIAMS was arrested in Woodbridge, Va. on May 3, 2018 and removed to New York City for prosecution on charges in two indictments relating to the two organizations. She and four others are scheduled for arraignment today on a superseding indictment before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Abraham Clott, Part 61, 111 Centre Street.
NYDETF Group T-31 is comprised of agents with DEA New York Division, NYPD detectives and the New York State Police investigators.
The investigation began following a spike in overdose and deaths in South Brooklyn, including one fatal overdose and one non-fatal overdose linked to fentanyl analogs in Canarsie in June of 2017. Fentanyl analogs are variants of the potent opioid fentanyl, with slightly different chemical compositions, and can be significantly more lethal than fentanyl. While it is illegal to possess or sell fentanyl analogs under federal law, the majority of these substances are still legal under New York State law. Fentanyl and fentanyl analogs are responsible for more than half of all overdose deaths in New York City.
Agents and officers identified the trafficking organization allegedly headed by WALDEMAR VALENTIN, which operated out of rooms at two South Brooklyn motels: the Day’s Inn located on 49th Street and the Harbor Motor Inn located on Shore Parkway. It was part of the conspiracy for the defendants to store, package and sell heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, including fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl and despropionyl fluorofentanyl. The substances were sometimes mixed together and sometimes sold separately. It was also part of the conspiracy for the defendants to physically assault and threaten members and associates of the narcotics organization who undermined VALENTIN.
Members of the organization used coded language to discuss narcotics and set up purchases and sales. VALENTIN and others travelled to Staten Island where BRANDICE WILLIAMS resided in order to receive narcotics. Between October of 2017 and July of 2018, defendants PHILLIP PATSURIYA, aka “Phil,” MICHAEL BACA VELAZQUEZ, ANASTASIA SPIVAK and others allegedly sold narcotics at VALENTIN’s direction at the motels and elsewhere. More than 175 instances of narcotics sales and/or possession were identified during the wiretap investigation.
Conversations between VALENTIN and PATSURIYA indicated they sought out the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl and its variants to sell to their customers. As detailed in the indictment, VALENTIN and PATSURIYA discussed their customers being able to taste the difference between fentanyl and heroin. Once when narcotics they received from alleged supplier WILLIAMS tasted too much like “regular” heroin rather than “fetty,” VALENTIN told PATSURIYA that he was going to “have a talk with the connect.”
In May of 2018, the wiretap investigation revealed a series of mishaps that caused the organization’s narcotics supply to run short. On May 10, 2018, VALENTIN complained in a call to another individual that “wifey” threw out some narcotics “by the school in a black bag.” The following day, VALENTIN told defendant BACA VELAZQUEZ that narcotics had fallen in a sewer. BACA VELAZQUEZ said he would purchase a tool to help retrieve it. Later, BACA VELAZQUEZ informed VALENTIN he had heated and cooled the narcotics to dry it out after being in the sewer. “I did the oven then I did the freezer” and “they said it taste fine,” he said.
On May 13, 2018, PATSURIYA and VALENTIN exchanged a series of text messages about a member of the drug organization whom they suspected of stealing narcotics. PATSURIYA told VALENTIN that one individual they were seeking to assault was hiding inside a Staples store located at 2892 Ocean Avenue. A second individual they were seeking to assault was with PATSURIYA inside his car in the store parking lot. At approximately 3 p.m., VALENTIN approached PATSURIYA’s car with a baseball bat and struck the individual in the face with a baseball bat causing injury. PATSURIYA and VALENTIN then entered the Staples store together and VALENTIN allegedly struck the second individual in the head with the baseball bat causing injury.
After police responded to the Staples store, VALENTIN and PATSURIYA discussed the likelihood of the attack being captured on security footage. VALENTIN told PATSURIYA that if the individual they assaulted inside the store went to the police he would go after him and his family, stating, “I already put my people’s on so they know where he lives who his moms n all that.” On May 16, 2018, VALENTIN indicated he was looking for the individual he allegedly attacked in the store, stating, “I hit him in the head already” and “I’m not finish.”
VALENTIN and PATSURIYA were arrested in June of 2018. On May 6, 2019, VALENTIN was arraigned on a superseding indictment that charges him with Operating as a Major Trafficker, Attempted Assault in the First Degree, Assault in the Second Degree and Intimidating a Witness in the Third Degree, as well as three counts of conspiracy. PATSURIYA faces charges of Conspiracy, Attempted Assault in the First Degree and Assault in the Second Degree.
Between June of 2018 and May of 2019, the focus of the investigation shifted to a narcotic trafficking organization operating in the Marlboro Houses, a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residential complex in Brooklyn, who conspired to sell cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, particularly fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl, para-fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl and despropionyl fluorofentanyl. Eight members of this organization have been arrested and indicted as part of the conspiracy, in addition to BRANDICE WILLIAMS. WILLIAMS travelled to the Marlboro Houses from her residence in Woodbridge, Va., where she moved in the Fall of 2018, in order to supply narcotics to defendant JAMES SEASE and others.
WILLIAMS, SEASE and three codefendants are scheduled to be arraigned on a superseding indictment today before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Abraham Clott, Part 61, 111 Centre Street. The arrests occurred on May 3, 2019 as a result of a long-term investigation. The indictment charges SEASE and alleged members of the organization in a total of 15 sales of narcotics to undercover NYPD officers and additional charges of drug possession.
The defendants regularly convened in a number of apartments located throughout the Marlboro Houses, where they allegedly packaged and sold narcotics, stored firearms and ammunition, possessed forged credit cards and forgery devices and discussed matters related to the operation. The defendants also allegedly used a nearby deli, Food Corp. on 86th Street, as a location to congregate and store narcotics.
Agents and officers learned that SEASE resided in East Orange, N.J. and regulary commuted to the Marlboro Houses in a Mercedes vehicle. During the investigation, SEASE allegedly spent some of his criminal profits during multiple shopping sprees at high end stores, including Chanel and Bergdorf Goodman. These shopping trips were captured on store security footage. At Chanel SEASE purchased a $5,000 bag with a stack of $20 bills, which he photographed with his phone. At Bergdorf Goodman, SEASE purchased clothing and footwear by the luxury brand Balenciaga.
At the time of his arrest on May 3, 2019, agents and officers conducted a court authorized search of SEASE’s residence, located at 120 Halsted Street, Apt. 301, East Orange, N.J. and recovered approximately $19,000 cash, large amounts of high end luxury goods and 12 counterfeit driver’s licenses. Agents and officers also conducted a series of court authorized searches of apartments within the Marlboro Houses and recovered two loaded guns, quantities of narcotics, drug packing equipment and paraphernalia, fraudulent credit cards and a credit card embossing machine.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan thanked her office’s Narcotics Gang Unit, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) New York Division, the New York City Police Department and the New York State Police.
“This investigation was prompted by the urgent need to identify the source of highly potent drugs that were endangering lives in South Brooklyn. The case posed unique challenges as not all fentanyl analogs are illegal in New York State, despite their lethal nature. Fentanyl and its variations contributed to half of all overdose deaths in New York City last year, and removing these substances from the black market is a top priority for our office,” said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Brennan. “I thank all of our law enforcement partners for their commitment to this successful investigation.”
“The epidemic of opioid use continues to destroy the lives of too many members of our communities and their families. I commend the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor and the New York City Police Department for uncovering these alleged criminal operations. I remain committed to working with my law enforcement partners in holding accountable those who endanger lives by selling these dangerous substances,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
“Fentanyl hasn’t changed how traffickers operate, but it has changed the rates of overdoses nationwide,” said Ray Donovan, DEA Special Agent in Charge. “Twenty years ago, less than 1,000 deaths a year were attributed to synthetic opioids; recent analysis noted nearly 30,000 Americans were killed in 2017. We have prioritized targeting opioid traffickers, like these two organizations, whose violence and drug dissemination have wreaked havoc throughout our city and taken lives prematurely.”
“The NYPD and its partners will be tireless in the pursuit of those involved in narcotics trafficking within our city. These arrests—and the indictments that followed—demonstrate New York City law enforcement’s steadfast resolve in ridding our neighborhoods of these dangerous drugs. I commend the NYPD investigators as well as our colleagues in the DEA, the New York State Police, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, and the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, for their work in building this case,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill.
Acting New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett said, “Because of the critical partnerships and the collaborative efforts of our law enforcement partners, we were able to dismantle a dangerous heroin/fentanyl drug trafficking operation. The arrests of these criminals reinforces that we will continue to be vigilant in stopping the flow of these dangerous narcotics into our neighborhoods. The sale of such highly addictive drugs perpetuates a cycle of substance abuse which poses a significant threat to safety and quality of life within our communities, and it will not be tolerated. I commend our members and our law enforcement partners for their hard work in uncovering this illicit operation.”
The charges and allegations are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Download Press Release
Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office
New York City Police Department
DEA New York Division
New York State Police